Sierra Leone: the final frontier?
Sierra Leone is holding an investment conference in London on Wednesday, showing even the world’s least developed countries can aspire to become emerging economies.
There are a few tentative signs of money going into the country, which was scarred by a 1991-2002 civil war.
CDC, the UK’s development finance arm, said last week it was investing $5 million in private equity in Sierra Leone, in small and medium-sized firms ranging from fishing to financial services.
Soros, Sierra Leone president Ernest Bai Koroma and former UK prime minister Tony Blair all feature at Wednesday’s conference.
Koroma has been in power for the last two years and investors see some stability, which is good for investment.
The government fired two senior ministers earlier this month in an attempt to improve its record on fighting corruption.
A consortium led by Anadarko Petroleum made an oil find off the Sierra Leone coast earlier this year, and the country has diamonds and gold, but analysts say there is little scope for investment outside the mining sector.
The country lacks the financial markets needed to attract investment flows, analysts say.
“It’s probably pre-pre-pre-emerging,” says one emerging market analyst.
But as investors start once more to chase higher returns around the world, could Sierra Leone yet become a “frontier” emerging market?